Three is a perfect number: it’s the number of little pigs, blind mice, billy goat’s gruff, Goldilocks’ bears, musketeers, stooges, ninjas, and amigos. It’s the number for musical trios and cinematic trilogies, and it quantifies goals for a hat trick and winning races for the Triple Crown. If everything good comes in threes – from the Laws of Thermodynamics to beans in a salad – it only makes sense that there be Three Keys to Success. To make them even more manageable and memorable, they also come in alliteration. (All essentials worth their salt always start with the same letter, as everybody knows.) For someone in business for themselves, the three keys to success are Attitude, Activity, and Association.
Why does attitude come first? It has to be first or nothing else will matter. Here’s one way to look at it: on one hand, the right attitude is so essential that you risk wasting all other efforts without it. On the other hand, having the right attitude not only sets you up for success, it can even cover a multitude of other weaknesses. Everything begins and ends with attitude because it is the framework that keeps the entire ship afloat. This is not supposed to overshadow the following two points, but the emphasis is deserved because of the effect that attitude has on everything else.
You’ve noticed that successful people tend to think about everything differently, almost like they are unusually wired, right? This is what separates them from the average person. It comes from a series of choices all rooted in an attitude that recognizes life is 100% opportunity. That fundamental perspective directs the actions and reactions of any professional who is wise enough to use it to their own advantage.
Imagine a world where in the middle of all the ups and downs, there is one constant factor that you can control; and that factor makes all the difference! My 10 year-old self can still hear my mom telling me over and over that “attitude is a choice”, but to be honest, it wasn’t until I experienced the high highs and low lows of sales that it sank in. Staying emotionally level takes practice and determination when you’re on a business roller coaster, but it gets easier (habitual actually) when you resolve to focus on what’s positive. That’s the choice that unlocks the door to every opportunity.
How many biographies of famous entrepreneurs start with “she was sitting on her La-Z-Boy recliner when victory fell into her lap” or “he suddenly found himself surrounded by lasting riches and prestige after wasting plenty of time”? Legacies aren’t built on naps. You gotta go to work, period. That is the role and the significance of putting in the activity.
With the right attitude, there is no better way to excel over the competition than to outwork them. It’s another strategy that gives you an advantage if you lack skills or experience, but it also keeps you at the top once you know what you’re doing.
Even those who claim to work “smarter not harder” acknowledge that working smarter AND harder is what really widens the gap between the good and the best. Those career producers who are always ahead of the pack have more hustle behind their numbers than those looking up to them could probably even imagine.
When I hear the phrase “opportunity knocks”, it turns my stomach because of its misleading implication. If you’re at home waiting for an opportunity to knock, you might as well wait for money to grow on trees because it doesn’t work that way. Blame opportunity and its randomness all you want, but I am not a fan of the idea that my own opportunities are solely dictated by chance.
Is it a comfortable solution to assume that your business gets better regardless of the actions you either take or don’t? The reality behind opportunity is that the ones who are likely to find it are the motivated workers who do their own knocking and never stop. I’m sure there are exceptions to that, and you’re welcome to disagree, but I’ll take my chances knocking instead of waiting. It’s time to make more calls, set more appointments, and see more people than ever before. Control your activity by increasing it whenever, wherever, and however possible.
This final key is the most overlooked. Associating with the right people with the right ideas is obviously a productive use of time, so why does it get crowded out by other priorities? I guess the excuses will vary as much as the people that give them. I do think one explanation is that the benefits of association are not always tangible or clearly measured, but here are some undeniable benefits regardless of whether people take a moment to recognize the connections:
Association opens up the door to a mentor/mentee relationship. I was once told that when you are looking for good advice, ask it from the people you most want to be like. Practice absorbing information from men and women who have experience and wisdom worth sharing. If you don’t have a mentor, you might never find out how much you don’t know about being successful.
You can also benefit from associating with contemporaries. Never underestimate the advantage of gaining additional perspectives on growth opportunities in your business! In the right group of motivated peers who are all dedicated to improving their craft, there is unlimited potential for collaboration, exposure to new ideas, healthy competition, accountability, and team synergy. This also aids in emotional stability when a team you respect is there for you, encourages you through the frustrating days, and celebrates the good days. There is power in numbers, as well as a contagiousness of spirit when there is a cooperative commitment to progress.
Association can also refer to the purposeful effort of exposing yourself to books, books-on-tape, podcasts, training calls, seminars, and other forms of challenging and/or affirming material. Successful agents will seek out ways to sharpen their mind and skill sets, as opposed to simply winging it or ignoring weaknesses by hoping to get by on natural strengths.
The common denominator in consistent producers is the drive to be and stay a lifelong learner. This eliminates the ceiling on production in a way that will blow your mind! So right now, you need to commit to go learn something and don’t stop until you know everything there is to know about it. Then go back and find something else you missed the first time. This is the key to fast-forwarding a job into a career, and it all falls under this concept of association!
Bring It All Together
Now that you know The Three A’s of Success are Attitude, Activity, and Association. It doesn’t get any easier to remember than that! If you implement these three ideas into your work routine, the other aspects of success will follow seamlessly. I believe the only difference between good and great is being consistent, which is why it’s the toughest part. So keep it simple by making the most of every opportunity with your attitude (stay positive), activity (outwork everyone), and association (invest time around people that force you to grow).
The choices might seem hard at first, but it DOES get easier. Just have a little faith and take those important first steps, and I’m willing to bet you’ll become better even faster than you imagined possible.